NO MORE BS: Come, Let Us Reason Together – Chapter 5

Bait & SwitchIn Chapters 2 and 3 of this series, the discussion regarding money and the $350 Billion dollars COVID relief monies were discussed.  As this is a continuing discussion, I would encourage you to read those missives as well for a fuller understanding of the principles being discussed.  Regardless, several facts remain pertinent:

      1. The states accepting this money will be bound to spend it in a manner the Federal Government specifies.
      2. The money being given to the states as a “stimulus for COVID economic growth,” will not spur anything but inflation and poor fiscal policies.
      3. The strings attached to this money are a noose on individual state economic growth long after the deadline to spend the money (31 December 2026) comes and goes.

Doherty (2021) writing for the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) provides some clarity on the Treasury Department’s rules and regulations regarding this $350 Billion albatross being forced down the state’s throats.  The funds being discussed originate in the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan Act, and the Treasury Department has released operational guidance to the states and cities receiving the funds.  Never forget, while the Treasury Department claims there is an algorithm for sharing the money, politics and political connections will be the final determinant in who receives how much of the funds being doled out.

The Duty of AmericansPensions are the first point of discussion as to where these funds can go; never forget, pensions remain the largest single expense for states in the United States.  Those bloated governmental salaries, negotiated by unions, and put in place by legislative fiat, keep the taxpayer on the hook for poor financial planning long after the initial beneficiaries of the union retirement pyramid scheme and dead and buried.  Read carefully the pension data provided by USAToday for a full and detailed discussion on just how big the pension problem is for the states of the United States.

Millstone of Designed IncompetenceJust as important, look at the total number of government workers as a share of the total workforce, and you will discover just how big your state and local governments have become.  For example, two states selected at random from the 50-state list, New Jersey, and New Mexico are displayed below, and sourced from the article:

New Jersey

  • Funded ratio: 38.4%
  • Total pension shortfall: $130.7 billion shortfall (3rd largest)
  • Gov’t workers as share of total workforce: 13.3% (20th lowest)
  • Avg. annual payout per public retiree: $32,148 (9th highest)

New Mexico

  • Funded ratio: 61%
  • Total pension shortfall: $18.2 billion shortfall (18th largest)
  • Gov’t workers as share of total workforce: 18.6% (4th highest)
  • Avg. annual payout per public retiree: $20,907 (15th lowest)

ApathyConsider New Jersey for a moment, if you met 100 new people in one day, more than 1/10th of those met will work for the state or local government in some capacity, and those 11 people are earning $32,148 taxpayer paid dollars a year for being retired.  Worse, New Jersey is kiting checks on your children’s future to the tune of $130.7 Billion dollars every year.  Raising taxes cannot help closing the funding gap in the pension.  Want more news, the majority of those retired are not living in New Jersey, so all those taxpayer monies are not being recouped in sales taxes, property taxes, and other taxes.

Yet, the Federal Government just borrowed $1.9 Trillion to give the states $350 Billion, and the monies provided will not even pay a years’ worth of pension payments in most cases.  Let alone pay for all the other accounts that have been stripped to pay for the pension gap.  For example, infrastructure (Roads, Bridges, Highways, Broadband Internet, the Electrical Grid, etc.), Teachers, Community Colleges, Unemployment Insurance, Water and Wastewater Treatment facilities, and Health and Human Services, just to name a few cash strapped state programs.

Plato 2A few days ago, I was discussing broadband Internet grids, and there susceptibility to failure with people who work for a major Internet Service Provider.  In Umatilla County, as an example, the Internet either currently, or previously, went down nightly for 5-6 hours at a time.  Read the outage reports and you will find regular large geographic areas of the country suffering with Internet latency and connectivity issues.  Yet, your state legislators must focus not upon the potholes damaging your car, not upon shaky bridges and overpasses prone to failure, but upon pensions for retirees.  All due to labor unions and promises that should never have been made in the first place!

Pensions are the number one reason I, personally, think that government workers should not be able to unionize, and that the government pensions should be as rigidly controlled as the private sectors pensions.  Yet, the inverse is true, unions growing in the public sector, shrinking in the private sector, and the taxpayer is left with the bill.  Since the government can continue to kite checks, our children’s great grandchildren are already up to their necks in debt that is unsustainable.

Plato 3Come, let us reason together for solutions that actually work.  I offer below the following suggestions, feel free to agree, disagree, add more, and discuss openly in the comments.  We, the owners of government, must re-take control of the government, and to do so, we must communicate and act.

      1. Reduce the size of government immediately to the size posted on 31 December 1999. This is an immediate and interim step.  To be followed by a position by position, value discussion, where technological solutions to replace workers is decided.  Eventually culling government size back to a Pre-1930’s level.
      2. Automate as many functions as possible. The processes of how government function are necessarily complicated to justify a jobs program.  This culture of complication must cease forthwith, the processes cleared of unnecessary complications, and streamlined to allow for automation of the processes.
      3. Take the pensions and eradicate the unions. Privatize pensions should be the letter of the law for all, public and private sector employees.  Thus, creating a new market and investment industry.
      4. Privatize public maintenance of roads, the fuel taxes are sufficient to pay for this and improve road maintenance immediately.
      5. Privatize wastewater and water generation and distribution.
      6. Privatize and deregulate all utilities, allowing for maximum competition, and ending the private geographic monopolies the tech companies and Internet providers have established.
      7. Privatize K-12 and Community Colleges changing the pay structures for teachers and reducing the “staff” positions. Get focused on delivering a product, the product is an educated student who can read, write, and do math, thinking logically, and critically.  This means ending the surplus of standardized tests and putting the teacher in charge of the classroom.

PatriotismNever Give Up!Not every child should be forced into college.  Not every job requires a college degree.  Opening the community colleges produces certified, trained, and non-debt laden students that are workforce ready.  Workforce ready means able, willing, and skilled in working, be that in academia for a degree, or in the workforce as a tradesman the requirement is the same and the distinction needs removed from the leaders of K-12 educational leadership.

The aim and the intent of all government programs is to get out of the way and let people act as they think best for themselves and their families.  Not pushing children to college for a degree and a life of debt payments.  Not forcing them into the military because you are too lazy to teach them how to read, write, think, and speak.  Not forcing them into poverty to support a government jobs program.  The government will not go “quietly into that dark night.”  But, with enough insistence the government we currently know can be cut, reduced, and forced to retreat.  We, the citizens, need to take back our government through the ballot box, through the judicial branch, and through demanding change in the legislative and executive branches at all levels of the government.

Knowledge Check!First step, believe it is possible; live like it has already occurred.  Second step, join others to raise the cry and demand the changes.  Third, support only candidates who already live fiscally proper, morally upright, and ethically dedicated.  Fourth, never give up!  Never lose focus, and never relinquish the moral high ground for a bowl of pottage or 30 pieces of silver.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Revisiting Designed Incompetence

Dont Tread On MePlato has a point, “The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”  When writing about the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Internal Revenue Service, or the United States Postal Service, one must remember, these organizations have been intentionally designed to be as bad as they are.  The government worker refuses accountability, shuns responsibility, and simply wants to exist doing as little as possible for as much as possible.

In the private sector, the employee is expected to shoulder responsibilities, share in the companies struggles, trials, and the eventual victories.  Yet, the government employee is the exact opposite.  I have heard it said that government workers are a necessary evil, a scourge, and a disgrace.  Except, often times the government employee is just a rule follower and the really pernicious and dastardly government employee are those seeking power in their government employment.  The directors, the supervisors, the managers, and the undersecretaries.  The staff that never goes anywhere.  Political appointees come and go, but the staff is a scourge for life.

Never Give Up!While Plato has a point about apathy in public affairs leading to being ruled by evil men, what is lost in the discussion are the staff members.  Tom Clancy wrote about how a jet airliner took out both houses of the Congress, SCOTUS, and Vice President Jack Ryan suddenly found himself as President Ryan, rebuilding the entire US Government.  This Tom Clancy novel takes a person into the inner workings of the US Constitutional Government like no other book I have ever seen.  Best of all, he explains the intoxicating power the staff members, the executive assistants, and undersecretaries hold over the political appointees to hinder progress, stymie change, and control their fiefdoms against all forces of influence.  This is the root of designed incompetence.

What is an excuse?

An excuse is a method to reduce blame attached to an action, defend, or justify one’s actions, an attempt to release one from accountability, or a poor or inadequate example of something.  As children, we are taught excuses are like noses; everyone has one and picking it in public is disgusting.  Yet, when something happens, two types of people emerge, those who make excuses and those who take responsibility and work to fix the problem.

What is designed incompetence?

Designed incompetence is a ready-made excuse for inadequacies created in business operations, a method to avoid responsibility and accountability. Due to the cost of designed incompetence, it is generally only found in government operations.  Designed incompetence can also be intentional actions designed into business operations, so the expected functions are designed to fail purposefully.  Designed incompetence is always harmful and destructive in nature, generally will make no logical sense, and will always be the preplanned leadership fallback position.Apathy

Example of an excuse:

    • The USPS is running slow, so the delivery of mail is taking longer to deliver than usual.
    • COVID has a lot of employees out sick, so operations are slower.
    • The person who wrote the order requesting the work to be completed did not do their jobs properly, and the original order must be rewritten.

Examples of designed incompetence:

    • The VBA communicates using terminology not universal in medicine to intentionally confuse and hinder making appropriate decisions on veterans’ claims.
    • The VHA refuses to write policies and procedures due to a fear of risk; thus, when the VA-OIG investigates, the same recommendation can be made multiple times to write down procedures.  The leadership team can escape accountability for failure.
    • The USPS has mail carriers dumping mail in dumpsters, these employees are protected by the labor union, so the employee can keep their job, move them to a non-letter carrier position.

Designed Incompetence Feeds Inert and Toxic Cultures

Knowledge Check!Designed incompetence is the root cause for the toxic government employee workplace cultures.  When responsibility is shirked, the human psyche feels moral distress, and as the moral distress grows, so to does the self-loathing, self-hate, and feelings of hopelessness.  Worse, some people, who have constantly been ethically challenged or morally bankrupt, will use these feelings of self-loathing to capture power.  Once captured, the power becomes a drug, and that drug is highly addictive.  Thus, a self-fulfilling prophecy from Plato becomes true, “Apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”  The more the morally bankrupt and ethically challenged win power, the bigger an example to others of how to obtain power in government they become.  But the remaining people who do not receive power are left with a toxic workplace, full of inert people.  Motivating inert people in a toxic culture, who are already feeling the stress of acting morally indifferent will leave multi-generational scars on the workforce.

An important point that requires mentioning, “it is not for the lack of money or technology to pinpoint abuses and problems with employees; it is all the inertia of the leadership towards action and the toxic culture which allows and encourages pushing the boundaries that are killing veterans in the VA.”  The same is true for any of the alphabet agencies created by the Federal Government, state government, and local government.  Walk into a DMV and tell me if you cannot sense a toxic and inert culture is driving down customer service levels.  Walk into a welfare office and tell me the people working one side of the counter are not inert.  Worse, walk into any IRS field office and tell me how you feel being around the morally bankrupt and ethically challenged.Plato 2

I met some school board officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was appalled at the lack of ethics and morals they displayed.  Judges and lawyers are driving drink and skating accountability because of their positions and so much more.  All because the designed incompetence in government promotes those who have the least reason and ability to be promoted.  Plato is absolutely correct, “The punishment which the wise suffer, who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men.”  For too long, government employees have been allowed to run the asylum while the best and brightest pursue goals in the private sector.  If America is to win back her government, the citizen must stand and boldly proclaim “NO!” and then get into government service to change the toxic and inert cultures.

Plato might have been mentioning the following about elected officials, but I find it apt and applicable to the designed incompetence by the staff members, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up governed by your inferiors.”  The first time I met my director as a VA employee, I knew two things, she hated me, and I was doomed to suffer under her inadequacies.  Both of which came true over the following 360-days.  The intransigency of the leadership in administrative positions at the VA is frightening.  Ending these abuses of power is the preeminent position of every citizen in every democratically elected society.

Plato 3The scourge of designed incompetence must end.  If this means eating soup with a knife, then we must eat the bowl of soup to the dregs.  But, we must act if we are to save our countries from the politicians and the staff that have infested our governments!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.